SPN Fic: Tomorrow (Gen, PG)
Category: Gen
Rating: PG
Characters: Dean Winchester, Sam Winchester
Word Count: 2266
Related Episode: 1X12 Faith SPOILERS
Disclaimer: Not mine. Highly unlikely they'd ever be.
Summary: Denouement in the morning after. In Dean's words, they "sit there yap about their feelings and watch the sunrise."
A/N: This was actually the very first fic I've ever started in the SPN fandom, right after watching Faith for the first time almost two years ago. It has survived 3 OS's, 1 power supply blow, 1 new hard drive and 2 computer changes. I figure if it made it this far it deserves to be finished. As it turns out, I just realized that it is also one of the longest fics I've ever written to date. Huh. Anyway, questions, comments, critiques are most welcome.

For Em, my beta, the patron saint of languishing fics and tiny kitties. Because she's a lovely person (despite the fact that she doesn't think my fics are OMGAWESOMEWONDAFULAMAZINGTEARJERKERS1!!1! but nobody's perfect), and because this fic would never have seen the light of day if not for her.

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This is John Winchester. I can't be reached. If this is emergency call my son Dean…

"Dad, it's Sam."

Sam took a deep breath before he continued, a hand rubbing his aching eyes.

"I don't know where you are, or if you've gotten my last message or not... but uh, we're in Nebraska," he paused, clearing his throat. "Dean's fine. He's fine now. I, uh, we... There's this guy we heard from Joshua, and..."

He clears his throat again. "And he helped Dean."

If he had to do it all over again, bringing his brother here. Saving Dean.

"So... he's fine now."

If he had known the price to be paid for their miracle, how lives were traded by the will of a preacher's wife.

"Everything's all right."

He thought his decisions would've been the same.

"So, yeah. Just thought you might want to know."

Sam flipped his phone shut.

It wasn't much of an epiphany, really - no swelling background music or thought bubbles with switched-on light bulbs - in the end, it was just Dean and Other People and choices made. He was tired and so tired of thinking.

The door behind him clicked close. Sam turned to look. Dean's there, arms folded and leaning by the door, watching him.

"Hey." Sam wasn't sure how much his brother had overheard. Probably more than enough. Shrugging a little, he offered, "can't sleep."

Dean nodded, but didn't say anything. He came over and sat down next to Sam on the steps, rumpled shirt and muddy jeans from yesterday weren't even buttoned up all the way. Sam tried to give Dean an once-over without being too obvious - still a bit pale, but his face looked less pinched than earlier. Good thing too, because bonding over debilitating headaches really wasn't their thing.

"I..." Sam gestured with the phone in his hand. "Just calling Dad, you know, to-"

Dean didn't wait until he finished. "Yeah."

"Maybe he didn't get my message."

Dean looked at him for a second, shrugged then turned away.

"He's probably somewhere with no reception." Sam offered, wanting to cringe at the lameness of it, but Dean didn't say anything. His brother's face was carefully blank, eyes downcast and miles away. Sam could see the tightness at the corners of his eyes, barely discernible, and if Sam didn't know any better he would call it disappointment.

But knowing Dean, it was probably concern for their father instead, wondering if something had gone badly on Dad's hunt. If Dad was injured. If Dad was dead. Scenarios bad enough for Dad to not return a call about his dying son.

Because considering the alternative was simply not an option.

Sam had nothing to say to that.

The silence stretched between them like an elastic band, a wrong move, or a careless word, would cut it into pieces and smack them hard in the face. He had never noticed how quiet the parking lot of a roadside motel could be at five-thirty in the morning.

Sam scrubbed his face again, fingers combing back errant bangs - maybe it's time for another trim - and exhaled slowly. He was so damn tired.

"Dad'll call when he does," Dean finally said. His face turned up, like he's talking to nobody in particular, like he said the words just for the sake of hearing them out loud.

Sam nodded. He had nothing to say to that either. Nothing that wouldn't count as picking a fight, anyway.

So he asked instead, "how's your head?"

"My head's fine."

"Dean." Of course he was fine; Sam wasn't sure exactly what happened, but his brother puked his guts out on the side of a dirt road, twice, as they drove back to the motel last night. He had asked, but Dean just shook his head, wincing, and crawled into bed after downing a handful of aspirin. If it was the Reaper, Sam supposed, then at least he had broken the binding in time. Lucky them. "Maybe you should go get checked out anyway. You were pretty-"

"Really. I'm fine, Sammy."

"All right." Sometimes, Sam really didn't know why he bothered. "Fine."

"Oh, God." Dean dropped his head into his hands. "Not this now."

"Not what? I said fine."

"Fine, my ass," his brother answered with a dramatic roll of his eyes. "You're all puffed up."

"'Am not."

"Are too. And you're going to sulk until you've gotten your way." The way Dean said it, stating it, like it's a matter of fact, like 'the sea is blue' and 'Wendigos are evil' - it had never failed to get under Sam's skin.

"I don't sulk, and I don't get puffed up. Whatever that means." He shot back, well aware of the tinge of whine in his own voice, but Dean made him sound like some sulky six year-old brat, and he hadn't been like that since, well, he was six. Or five, even.

"Yeah, you totally do."

"I –" Then suddenly he recognized what Dean was doing. He narrowed his eyes. "Dude. You really think I'd fall for that?"

"What?" Dean blinked at him, still attempting innocence. As if.

"I'm twenty-two, man, not twelve. You really think I wouldn't notice when you try to sidetrack me?"

"I'm not sidetracking anybody from anything." Another slow blink, and Sam could see the gears in Dean's head switching - Plan B: Immediate Evacuation from Areas Affected by Unwanted Conversations. Moving stiffly, his brother started to get up. "You can sit here yap about your feelings and watch the sunrise. Whatever you wussy state hippies like to do. I'm going back to bed."

"Dean." He didn't turn to look at his brother, wasn't sure if he should - eye contact could be taken as too much of a confrontation - but Sam knew if he let this go they'd never be talking about this ever again.

Like he was going to let that happened.

"What?" And if his tone is anything to go by, Dean knew that too.

"I just wish you could give more of a damn," Sam answered quietly. "That's all."

For a long moment, Dean didn't say anything.

"Dude. I give plenty of damn about a lot of things." You could always count on Dean to have a come back. "I mean, have you seen Jennifer Love Hewitt's wardrobe on that show, Ghostswhispering or something? And that hair?"

"This is not some joke, Dean. It's your life."

"Don't I know it, Sam?" His brother suddenly snaps back, smirking bitterly like burnt coffee. His words sharp. "I'm alive because Marshall Hall died. His life for mine. You think I'd forget that?"

"Look, you're pissed at me." Sam had expected it. Hell, he even braced himself for it, but it still stung. "I get that."

"I'm not pissed at you." The words came so quick that it could only be the whole truth or a bold face lie. Sam wanted to believe it was the former.

"Well, then maybe you should be."

"What the hell are you talking about, Sam?"

"I brought you here. I made you sit in the front rows in that tent. I trashed the black alter, and I broke Sue-Ann's cross." He was sorry that Marshall Hall died. He was sorry that they couldn't save Layla. He wished things didn't turn out this way, but Dean got to live and Sam wasn't regretting a single thing he did. If that's what it took to save his brother. "You feel responsible for Marshall Hall, for Layla, fine, but I'm just as guilty as you are. So if you're laying blame, then give me my fair share."

For a few seconds, Dean just stared at him, his expression somewhere between confused and incredulous. "That's different!"

"How?"

"It just is."

"Why?"

"Because it's not supposed to work like that!" Dean glared at him. Sam stared right back, not backing down. "It's -"

"Well, I don't care how it's supposed to work!" Sam didn't get it, how Dean could think that everyone else should be picked for a team before him. He was so fucking sick of this martyr-wannabe crap. "You're my brother."

If he sounded like he was six again and Dean was his be all and end all for the entire world, Sam didn't care. It wasn't that far from truth, anyway.

"You're my brother," he said again.

The words took the wind out of Dean's sails. He slowly sat back down beside Sam, hunched over, elbows resting on knees. "It's wrong, Sam. Somebody dying in my place."

"It wasn't your fault."

"What difference does that make?"

"Sue-Ann's the one who controlled the reaper." Sam remembered the satisfaction he felt like a breath of wintry air, clear and sharp, when he smashed the cross and stood there as Sue-Ann collapsed. He watched as her chest stilled with the last breath and her eyes turned cloudy grey. "She's the one responsible, Dean. Not Roy, or anyone he healed. Not even the reaper. And certainly not you."

"Thanks. That makes me feel so much better." There was no bite to Dean's words - more a knee-jerk reaction of a come back than an actual retort. "These people – Marshall Hall, that jogging girl, the guy in the parking lot. They didn't do anything wrong, just living their lives."

Dean wiped a hand across his face before continuing, "Layla's gonna die."

"I'm sorry, Dean."

"Not your fault." His brother sighed, sounding tired. "God, this sucks out loud."

Sam knew that feeling. "Yeah."

A car started on the other side of the parking lot - some travelers getting a head start on their day. The sky has lightened to a pale grey, growing steadily brighter from the east.

"I'm not angry with you, Sammy." Dean said quietly, meeting his eyes then glanced away. "Really. I'm not. It's just… I'm… you know. I don't want you to think that, okay? 'Cause I'm not."

"Yeah." Sam blinked hard, not wanting to admit to the rush of relief. He didn't regret what he'd done, but he would've understood if Dean was angry with him, for bringing him to Roy and lying to do it. "Okay."

"And, uh, thanks."

"Guess you owe me one, huh?"

"I guess," His brother answered, grimacing a bit.

For a while, they sat together quietly. There was no place else they had to be and no deadlines to meet. They watched as the sky brightened and the small town around them woke up, one pick-up truck at a time.

"I meant what I said."

"Come again?" Dean turned to him, confused.

"You're my big brother. What would I do without you, right?" Sam looked Dean in the eyes as he spoke. He knew Dean might not believe him now, or later when he told him again, or even the time after that. Sam'd just have to keep telling him until he did – he could out-stubborn Dean any day of the week, anyway. "Like it or not, you're stuck with me."

"Huh." Dean said, after a few seconds. He looked away, glancing back at Sam, and looked away again. Eventually, Dean cleared his throat, his face almost managed nonchalant, and said, "You look beat. Wanna go to bed?"

Sam wanted to roll his eyes at the blatant attempt to change subject, but he supposed they'd had enough heart-to-heart talk for a few months. Or a couple of years, by Dean's standards.

"Not really." Over-tired to the point of restlessness as he was, Sam would just end up tossing and turning for hours.

"There's a Denny's down the block. Pancake breakfast?"

"All right."

"Maybe they'd put smiley faces on them with sliced apples, like they used to when you were a little girl."

"It was only once, on my birthday." He did roll his eyes this time. "I was turning six."

"You loved it. I could tell the waitress it's your birthday today or something."

Suddenly, the idea that Dean would be around to annoy him through another birthday, ordering him ridiculous food and making him wear balloon-animal hats was almost too much. He thought he might burst into tears on the spot, choking on relief. Sam closed his eyes, slowly took a deep breath, and another, and another.

When he opens his eyes again, Dean was looking at him, face soft in the dawning light. Being there, solid and warm, waiting for Sam to catch up, like he always had and always would, steadfast and patient, like Dean had all the time in the world.

The knot in Sam's chest slowly unwound.

"Bitch." Dean nudged him gently with a shoulder.

Sam aimed for the head, but Dean shifted and the swat became a shove on the shoulder instead. Smiling like he hadn't for weeks, he replied, "Jerk."

He stood up.

"You coming or what? I'm starving." Sam headed towards the car. "I want blueberry pancakes, and buttermilk waffles. And sausage."

"Maybe they'd even make you that girly fresh fruit whatever yogurt smoothie thing you like so much."

"Mixed berry parfait with granola and low-fat yogurt. It's healthy."

"Yeah, sure, Francis."

"You should eat better too, Dean, at your age. I should do the ordering when we get there."

"No freaking way, man. You'd probably get me oatmeal or some crap. I'm craving bacon."

"It's my birthday. So I get to order, and the pick of music in the car - that's the rule, remember?"

"Not for another four days."

"That's well within the acceptable period of birthday celebration."

"If you're the Queen of England."

It was not quite and-they-lived-happily-ever-after, but Sam would take whatever he could get.

Dean was here, and they could figure out the rest.

The End

Thanks for reading:)